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What have Trump and Kim signed? We read between the lines

Document hailed by US president as ‘very comprehensive’ does not go much further than existing denuclearisation agreement

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “What have Trump and Kim signed? We read between the lines” was written by Justin McCurry in Tokyo, for The Guardian on Tuesday 12th June 2018 08.27 UTC

The wording of the document signed by Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un on Tuesday falls some way short of the dramatic billing the president gave it at the end of the leaders’ historic summit in Singapore.

Trump described it as a “very comprehensive” agreement that would “take care of a very big and very dangerous problem for the world”.

There is significance, of course, in the fact that the two men met at all, and ended their five hours together with the genesis of what could lead to more substantive moves towards denuclearisation. But as it stands, the document does not differ greatly from the agreement issued by Kim and the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, after their meeting on the southern side of the demilitarised zone at the end of April.

The Trump-Kim document contains four main points:

The United States and the DPRK [the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] commit to establish new US-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.

That represents a departure from the fiery rhetoric that has traditionally characterised relations between Washington and Pyongyang, the latter of which routinely uses state propaganda to depict the US as an enemy power intent on destroying the regime and its people. It also reflects Kim’s desire to focus on economic progress – now possibly with American assistance – having achieved his aim of developing nuclear weapons capable of threatening the mainland US and bringing the president to the negotiating table.

The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.

There is no direct commitment here to formalise those sentiments with a peace treaty to replace the armistice signed at the end of the Korean war in 1953. That would require the involvement of China and other countries that took part in the conflict. As expected, Trump offered “unspecified” security guarantees to North Korea, a gesture whose vagueness matches that of Kim’s commitment to denuclearise.

Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

This is the most critical, and easily the most problematic, of the leaders’ statements. It does not meet Washington’s long-stated goal of complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement (CVID) of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, but simply restates Kim’s position after his summit with Moon.

No serious analysts expected the North Korean leader to commit to CVID in his first meeting with Trump. That process – if it happens at all – could take years and cost billions of dollars.

It also fails to define what is meant by denuclearisation. In Washington, it requires Kim to abandon his nuclear ambitions. But the North Korean interpretation is more complicated. The regime believes it should include the withdrawal of the US nuclear umbrella from South Korea, possibly including the withdrawal of all 28,500 US troops ranged along the South’s border with the North.

As the Atlantic Council’s Alexander Vershbow said, it comes down to the difference between the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and the denuclearisation of North Korea.

The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.

One of the many legacies of the 1950-53 Korean war is the recovery and repatriation of the remains of prisoners of war and soldiers who went missing in action.

“Remains of an estimated 5,300 missing American service members are in North Korea and potentially recoverable,” according to Stars and Stripes. “Because of an intensely strained relationship between the two countries, there’s been no successful effort to collect the remains since 2005.”

This is probably the most risk-averse gesture Kim could have agreed to at the summit. Japan, however, will be disappointed that the text makes no mention of Japanese nationals who were abducted by North Korean agents during the cold war.

It remains to be seen if Trump raised those abductions during his talks with Kim, having promised to do so in a phone call with the Japanese prime minister, Shinzō Abe, on Monday.

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Trump Administration Wants California To Pay Back Billions For Bullet Train

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Trump administration plans to cancel $929 million in U.S. money for California’s beleaguered high-speed rail project and wants the state to return an additional $2.5 billion it’s already spent.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announcement Tuesday came after threats from President Donald Trump to make California pay back the money awarded to build the train between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The project has faced cost overruns and years of delays.

The Trump administration argues California hasn’t provided required matching dollars and can’t complete work by a 2022 deadline.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office and California rail officials didn’t immediately comment.

Last week, Newsom said the rail project “as currently planned, would cost too much and take too long.” He wants to refocus on building a line in central California.

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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Calls For Reconsideration of SCOTUS Verdict In New York Times v. Sullivan

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Tuesday urged the court to reconsider its landmark precedent that made it harder for public figures to sue for defamation even as he joined in a decision to end a defamation suit against comedian Bill Cosby.

The 1964 high court ruling in the libel case known as New York Times v. Sullivan has served as a powerful protection for media reporting on public figures. But Thomas, one of the high court’s most conservative justices, said it is not rooted in the U.S. Constitution.

That ruling and the court’s later ones extending it “were policy-driven decisions masquerading as constitutional law,” Thomas wrote, expressing views that appear to be aligned with those expressed previously by President Donald Trump.

Thomas made the comments in a concurring opinion agreeing with his fellow justices in refusing to consider reviving a defamation lawsuit against Cosby by Kathrine McKee, an actress and former Las Vegas showgirl who said he falsely called her a liar after she accused him of raping her in 1974.

McKee was represented in the case by attorney Charles Harder, who represented Trump in a defamation suit brought against the president by adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Daniels has said she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006, which he denies. McKee had appealed a court ruling in Massachusetts that threw out her lawsuit.

In January 2018, Trump called current defamation laws “a sham and a disgrace” following the publication of a book about the White House by author Michael Wolff called “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” which among other things questioned the president’s mental health.

The high court’s unanimous 1964 ruling held that in order to win a libel suit, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the offending statement was made with “actual malice,” meaning knowledge that it was false or reckless disregard as to whether it was false.

The case involved a lawsuit against the New York Times, a newspaper that Trump often criticizes for its coverage of him.

Thomas wrote that “we should carefully examine the original meaning of the First and Fourteenth Amendments,” referring to the constitutional provisions protecting freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the application of those rights to the states.

“If the Constitution does not require public figures to satisfy an actual-malice standard in state-law defamation suits, then neither should we,” Thomas wrote.

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Leaving Neverland: First Trailer For Devastating New Michael Jackson Documentary Released

HBO/Channel 4 production features the testimonies of two men who allege that the singer sexually abused them as children

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Leaving Neverland: first trailer for ‘devastating’ Michael Jackson documentary” was written by Benjamin Lee, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 19th February 2019 19.32 UTC

It’s a documentary Michael Jackson’s estate doesn’t want you to see. But despite legal threats, HBO and Channel 4 will air Leaving Neverland next month.

A new trailer offers a first look at the troubling two-part, four-hour film that premiered at Sundance film festival last month, featuring the testimonies of James Safechuck and Wade Robson, who allege that Jackson sexually abused them as children.

“He told me if they ever found out what we were doing, he and I would go to jail,” says Robson in the trailer.

The film shocked critics and audiences when it was shown at Sundance. Variety’s Owen Gleiberman called it “devastating” and the Hollywood Reporter’s Daniel Fienberg praised it as “complicated and heartbreaking”.

“This is not a movie about Michael Jackson,” said director Dan Reed to Variety. “This is not a movie about Michael Jackson abusing little boys. It’s a movie about two families and how two families came to terms with what their sons revealed to them many years after Jackson died.”

Jackson’s estate has already criticised the film in a 10-page letter addressed to HBO’s CEO. It denied the allegations and condemned director Dan Reed for not speaking to anyone in Jackson’s family or legal team. Since the film premiered, some Jackson fans have attacked the director and the two accusers.

“There is also this league of fans who are almost like a cult, and they say very nasty things [about the film] on social media,” Reed said to Vice. “And their words echo the two-decade long rhetoric of the Jackson family and legal team, which is shaming the victims. It happens often in these cases. It’s what they do very aggressively and relentlessly, and I don’t think you can get away with that in 2019 like you could in the past.”

Earlier this month, a Chicago pre-run of an upcoming Broadway show based around Jackson’s music was cancelled because of the Actors’ Equity Association strike reportedly causing delays. Equity has rejected that its “modest” demand was to blame for the cancellation.

“The developmental lab that was scheduled for this production was delayed by 12 working days during the strike,” a spokesman said. “It is difficult to understand how a modest delay in February would impact a run that was scheduled for late October.”

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